High School Senior
By Sharon Olds
For seventeen years, her breath in the house
at night, puff, puff, like summer
cumulus above her bed,
and her scalp smelling of apricots
--this being who had formed within me,
squatted like a bright tree-frog in the dark,
like an eohippus she had come out of history
slowly, through me, into the daylight,
I had the daily sight of her,
like food or air she was there, like a mother.
I say "college," but I feel as if I cannot tell
the difference between her leaving for college
and our parting forever--I try to see
this house without her, without her pure
depth of feeling, without her creek-brown
hair, her daedal hands with their tapered
fingers, her pupils dark as the mourning cloak's
wing, but I can't. Seventeen years
ago, in this room, she moved inside me,
I looked at the river, I could not imagine
my life with her. I gazed across the street,
and saw, in the icy winter sun,
a column of steam rush up away from the earth.
There are creatures whose children float away
at birth, and those who throat-feed their young
for weeks and never see them again. My daughter
is free and she is in me--no, my love
of her is in me, moving in my heart,
changing chambers, like something poured
from hand to hand, to be weighed and then reweighed.
I posted that poem in 2003 -- weirdly enough, with a photo of Mount Rainier and the stadiums in Seattle taken a few blocks from where Daniel lives now.
Busy Wednesday. Maddy arrived very early in the morning from California, then had to be at work at the mall at 10 a.m. Adam needed a ride at noon from College Park to NIH for an orientation lunch meeting and some administrative stuff (ID, medical, etc.), then back to the pediatrician to get his TB test checked -- fortunately it was negative! Plus we had half an hour to fill between NIH and the doctor, so we stopped for Krispy Kreme on the way and had salted caramel doughnuts. We came back to the house until Maddy was finished with work.
Then we went to meet Maddy at California Pizza Kitchen for dinner, where she told us that she is going back to California to enroll in a program to get her ready for college after her chaotic high school years, which we agree will be a good idea for her. After that, we all drove Adam back to the University of Maryland. When we got home we wound down watching The 100 and Designated Survivor, neither of which gave us the episode originally advertised but at least they didn't suck. Some more photos of animals at Mount Vernon: